Monthly Archives: February 2017
After the initial success of the first X-Men film, of course there’d be a sequel. A lot of people look to Marvel’s The Avengers for a great example of “team movies” but I’ll look to X-Men United for that. It’s also a good example of just a good sequel film….But why?
Let’s look at it.
- The CHARACTERS
- There’s a whole slew of new characters in this film. From Nightcrawler’s debut, to Iceman (aka Bobby), and Pyro (John). Seeing all of these new and familiar (to the comic readers) faces is pretty neat. Especially in terms of seeing Nightcrawler for the first time in live action. His signature BAMF teleporting sound is a bit off, and they do kind of hammer in his religious nature, but other than that he is a pretty cool character. Logan makes a return of course, as well as the original team. They all seem to have better chemistry here, than in the first film. Logan of course has his lone wolf streak going, but for the most part he seems to jive well with the students and teachers. Mystique also has much more of a role here, and unlike her New Trilogy younger counterpart, this Mystique knows her stance, and is seemingly a much more confident badass woman to me personally and I like that. I also like that we actually get to see her AS Mystique not as a human cover such as how Lawrence portrays her.
- The ACTION
- Can’t have a superhero without good action sequences. And boy does this film deliver on that. It’s almost like they realized “hey Wolverine is actually kind of a violent person let’s use that” in one of the best action sequences in the X-Men Trilogy. Seeing Wolverine go near berserk was pretty sweet. We also get to see Pyro’s powers be used here as well as Iceman’s-from cooling Coke to creating an Ice Wall. The fight scene between Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike was cool even if Logan was getting his butt kicked for most of it. It’s always cool seeing Logan in action and it’ll be just incredible to see him in his solo film.
- The STORY
- The story here is a bit more fleshed out than in the first film. How they work in Logan’s history is just brilliant; not completely giving the audience the whole story-just enough for them to work it out on their own and realize “shit he really did go through hell….but WHY?” A key phrase as to asking why is “you forget you VOLUNTEERED for this experiment” from Styker….Is he telling the truth or not? We don’t know. It’s also a very interesting story furthering the mutants vs humanity in a well told way-also showing off Xavier’s true strength was a nice touch-several times in the film they did this. They weave little character arcs nicely in the overall story as well. But…..Uggggggh stupid Logan/Jean thing is still stupid and pointless and just because he had a passing crush on her in the comics doesn’t mean that it translates well to film…And it DOESN’T. But that’s for another review.
- The PACING
- The pacing of this film (I believe) is kind of like the first-a bit wonky. It’s a slow burn kind of movie-it’s not always hard core action and there’s lots of character development in this film. It’s not a BAD thing about the movie, but it’s something that needs to be addressed.
- The CHARACTERS
- Because there ARE a lot of characters, some get the limelight, others get the short end of the stick. Nightcrawler is just kind of there, Pyro…..he’s just the typical “Rebel” who seems to only at Xavier’s school because there’s no where else for him to go. Bobby and Rogue’s relationship is nicely touched upon, and the whole frenemies thing with Charles and Magneto is touched on as well. It’s an odd mish mash of characters but for the most part it’s balanced….ok.
- The SOUNDTRACK
- Some movies have a very memorable score, even down to the beats and theme. The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Dr Strange….all have very memorable scores. X2…the theme is nice but that’s about it. The rest is rather mediocre and doesn’t leave an impact.
I don’t think I touched on everything in the film, and I’m probably missing something. But for the big things, character, story, action, characters, progression of story….It’s all handled from ok to well done here. The sequel is indeed bigger and more impressive, and it doesn’t fall into sequel trap of “all old characters are back….with nothing for them to do”. The characters for the most part are handled pretty ok….the action is pretty amazing…..The special effects are actually upgraded here to look much nicer as time goes on compared to the first film. The story is interesting, and ok paced. All in all, X2 is a rather nice follow up to a nice first film.
X2: X-Men United gets a 4/5 from me….It’s really good….But…It’s got a few problems here and there.
With the release of Cars 3 set for June, I figure it’s time to look back at the first two Cars films to see how they hold up….To this day, both films both films are the lowest ranked Pixar movies on Rotten Tomatoes….Yep. Cars which has more of a cohesive plot than The Good Dinosaur sits lower than The Good Dinosaur…..Sometimes I don’t get people. There’s nothing inherently BAD in any of the Cars films….and I can certainly see through the animation why the first at least was made….But….well let’s just get into it.
- The ANIMATION
- No matter the film, Pixar has taken animation to new heights. This is shown surely throughout the film. From the cinematography, to the actual animation itself, the film looks wonderful. They made the god damn desert look PRETTY. That is HARD to do. Believe me I know; I live in Southern Arizona and more often than not it can look rather dull. But dang they made it look nice. The long winding roads, the waterfall at the hotel, the views….it all looks lovely.
- The MESSAGE
- The message in the film is as simple as the film itself…..Take life easy. It’s not about the destination, it’s the journey….And also maybe hinting at the fact that the “old days” were “So much better” where people went on the highway to make new friends and memories rather than to just get somewhere. Where old sleepy towns were in their heyday.
- The ACTING
- I always say voice acting is harder than live action acting. And I’ll hold to that…Unless say you’re working with a REALLY bad director on a live action set. But with animation, it’s just you in a booth, with a script, and pictures of your character. The acting isn’t BAD….Owen Wilson does a good enough job with Lightning to where first time viewers might not know who the actor is….But if you know who Owen Wilson is or what he at all sounds like….It’s obvious right away and can become a bit of a distraction. Which on a side note….Anyone think he makes Lightning sound WAY older in the third Cars film? Or is that just me? Anyways, Paul Newman did an amazing job as Doc Husdon, Lightning mentor in a sense, and of course there’s Larry the Cable Guy as Lightning’s new friend Mater….you’ll either love him or hate him….I’m more or less “meh” on Larry but the whole “get ‘er done” thing….Not my thing. It’s a half and half sort of thing with the acting; some people do ok, others you can tell are just reading the script.
- The PLOT
- The plot…..it’s pretty basic. For most they can see the story points a mile away. Sure though that Lightning is a likeable enough character to keep one entertained and not bored senseless, he doesn’t quite have the capability to carry the entire weight of the plot. It’s a good lesson for little kids, but for those who have grown up and experienced other Pixar films, this doesn’t quite reach that bar that they raised. It’s not BAD just….average.
- The PACING
- The pacing is like most things in the film….just pretty average. It does slow down quite a bit….mostly when Lightning gets to Radiator Springs hence the duration of the second act. It kicks up during the third act-during that final three way race in LA though.
- The CHARACTERS
- Once again the characters are like most other things in the film….Not bad….just average. Lightning is an ok main character-starting out in that typical “all about me I need to learn my lesson” type dick, before getting that “heart of gold” personality. Sally seems pretty typical as well; that nice love interest who helps show the main his way. Tow Mater is….well….uh….you either like him or hate him. I’m personally not a big fan of the “get er done” type character and found myself rolling my eyes a lot at his antics. I think Doc Hudson aka the Hudson Hornet is really the only GOOD character in the film…Or the character you feel they (the animators and creators of the film) had actual respect for. Chick Hicks is….whew. Yeah he’s your typical bad guy dick who never learns the lesson our beloved hero does. I just hope that they don’t make Jackson Storm QUITE as intolerable as Hicks. Yeesh. The characters of Radiator Springs are all nice and unique though….Their car makes and models are also wide ranging as well….All stemming though from 50s onward styles….Which….yeah we can all agree that the 50s had some nice looking designs.
The film isn’t BAD….It has a nice message for the kids, and the animation is just lovely. Some of the camera work is nice too; I particularly love how the “camera” shakes whenever the racers speed by, which is a thing that actually happens in real life. The car designs are interesting, the characters are ok, and the concept is also….Interesting. It’s something more so geared toward little kids, rather than general audiences. I think the reason people feel such disappointment towards this film, is because it feels like this was made for toy sales, rather than a good movie first-it’s the first time among many first times that Pixar would lower their very high bar, so of course their fans would feel some sort of disappointment. But to outright call this film “horrible” or “bad”….A bit of a stretch. It does have good in it. At least it doesn’t just completely meander around like other Pixar films do.
Cars gets a 3/5 from me….It’s…..Just….well…Average. Believe you me it’s not the worst Pixar has to offer.
Back in 2014, a little movie known as The Lego Movie came out to theaters. It was a massive success…so much so that it spark outrage when it wasn’t among those nominated for Best Animated Feature in that year’s Oscars. Yeah. People were OUTRAGED that the LEGO MOVIE didn’t get nominated over other films of that year. So when a movie makes millions back, what’s there left to do but make a spin off of it? And if you’re going to make a spin off….What better character and franchise to use…Than Batman. Because you can pull from all of the live action films because there’s a lot of lore there to take and pull from….And if you look at all of the animated shows you can take and pull from those….And of course there’s all of his comics you can take and pull from those. Why not. And that’s what the Lego Movie people thought too so here we are.
And now we have The Lego Batman movie. So let’s talk about it.
- The ACTING
- I now believe that Will Arnett is funny. He just needs the right material and the right director to give him the right lead. So….He’s just not funny in the Michael Bay Ninja Turtles movies. But boy does he bring Batman to life here. He’s just as you know; arrogant, self absorbed, and awesome. This Batman is certainly much more self aware than the past incarnations, but he definitely makes the top 5 list of “Best Batmans”. Will Arnett did an amazing job with the voice acting, as I said before, he really brings Batman to life. The rest of the cast is HUGE from Adam DeVine in a nice little cameo, to Zach Galifianakis (who definitely earns his spot somewhere in the top 5 Jokers list) as the Joker, Batman’s arch nemesis….According to the Joker himself that is. You can just tell that everyone in the recording booths had a blast during the recording process. And even when there are quite a few emotional punches in the film, they manage to not only stay true to the overall tone of the film, which is a comedy, but they manage to bring those emotions out as well.
- The COMEDY
- You can’t talk about a comedy without….talking about the comedy. Most parodies rely on sexual jokes, butt humor, and really lame puns. Not the case with this film. The quips are hard hitting and fast-there’s a TON of Batman franchise references from costumes, to villains to the heroes themselves. This movie shows that yes parodies can exist and be good you just actually have to really work on them and not rely on the lowest common denominator. They even pull punches on the most recent of the Batman films Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as on Warner Bros. THEMSELVES. It just shows that the company is definitely cool when film makers ask “hey can we make fun of this in the film” and the studio answers with “yeah sure that’s fine”. From the first sentence of the film you know it’s going to be a good time.
- The ANIMATION
- There’s a big misconception right now that this film, along with it’s predecessor The Lego Movie (2014) is made through stop motion animation. However, that’s not the case. Films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, the Father of Stop Motion, is true stop motion, where they had to build characters, build sets, and move the characters precisely every which way. One scene in the Nightmare film, could take up to hours to film. With these two films, it’s all computer generation, but made to LOOK like stop-motion. And it’s beautiful. It’s fluid, nice looking, and amazing to look at. It just goes to show, that the limit of Lego’s, is just your imagination….And film property rights. That too.
- The ACTION
- You can’t have a Batman movie without hardcore kickass action sequences. Otherwise it just becomes a boring movie where they try and analyze things for the better half of the film….lookin’ at you Nolan. And the action scenes here….straight up Batman. What do I mean? I mean that here Batman actually sings while kicking major butt, and the other action scenes are fun, intense, and so amazing that word appear from out of nowhere in one of them!
- The FILM REFERENCES
- This has to be a good thing. If you’re a Batman fan, you’ll adore the amount of references, from Joker himself stating how many years they’ve been doing their shtick, (78 to be exact-makes me think they should’ve released this on Batman’s 80th year around town) to the infamous shark-repellent….And a few famous film villains make cameos as well…Make sure to try and spot them all. I’m just surprised out of all Batman related songs they didn’t put in “We Ridin’ (Batman) from VIC….I mean come on one of the lyrics is “Kinda like a bat signal with my wings in the sky. Cuz I’m fly in my city like (Batman)”…But they did put in “Everything is Awesome” and “Man in the Mirror” from the King of Pop himself so I’ll take that.
- The CHARACTERIZATION
- There are many, many, many different iterations of Batman. One could argue, that there isn’t much “characterization” in this film. Sure Batman has a nice arch, but it’s a pretty thin one at that, and you can clearly see where his story is going to go, especially since he starts out as such a HUGE narcissist-he would put Tony Stark himself to shame with this Batman’s ego. The rest of the characters are just kind of there, except arguably the main minor characters-Barbara Gordon, Richard Grayson, and the Joker. The rest just show up here and there and that’s it. Not really a complain on the film, but something that should be pointed out nonetheless. This isn’t The Dark Knight; you’re not going to get some long drawn out analysis on what makes a hero a hero, you’re going to get Batman being his awesome Batman self, with a few emotional heartstring tugging moments thrown in.
- The PACING
- Another kind of awkward thing in the film, is the pacing. Because the humor hits hard and fast throughout the entire film, about an hour in, when the film comes almost to a halt, you do notice it. The emotional slow down moments don’t detract from the overall film,and the tone of the film though; it does stay true to it’s comedic origin. Which is good.
So in the end, The Lego Batman movie isn’t entirely perfect. It has some weird pacing issues, and can be quite predictable, especially if you’re a Batman buff, and film buff. There are so many references to both Batman franchises, and film franchises. Gotta be sharp eyed to spot them all. The quips, humor in general is just constantly going, constantly on, and hardly stops. The characters are all you remember them as, and they’re all a joy to watch once again on the big screen. Will Arnett is an amazing Batman, and is totally up there with the big live action boys. It’s just overall an incredibly fun ride for film fans, and Batman fans alike.
The Lego Batman Movie gets a 4.5/5 stars from me. It’s not PERFECT but oh ho man is it a fun ride.
So which do you like better, The Lego Movie or The Lego Batman Movie? Let me know in the comments below!